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Thrift Store Triumph & Tragedy September 22, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Books, General, Writing.
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Been blog-absent for some time now, sorry. Finishing up a new book that y’all can watch this space for in a few weeks – not the new Wagstaff novel, but the first entry in a NEW series, this one a young adult scifi adventure tale that I’m sure adults can enjoy as well – and I’ve also devoted much time to work, an interesting investment exercise, and sports sports sports.

But in the meantime, a tale I’m inspired by today’s events to tell.

About a week ago while rummaging through yet another thrift store, I came across a pristine jet black 100% cashmere sport coat which I took as a sign from God to buy since it fit me PERFECTLY. The price tag was a tad steep for the thrift store universe since it had a Dior label, but between knowing the money would go to charity and a surprise $25 refund from my eye doctor the very same day, I figured I could simply average it with the other 100% cashmere blazer I found in a thrift store some months ago for a mere $3 and call it a day.

So today, I’m out running some errands and figure that I may as well hit the Goodwill to see what’s turned up in the book bin mostly, and lo and behold… another beautiful jet black blazer, only this time, 100% camels hair. I got a gray and a navy blue camels hair jacket, why not another black one? Evan-Piccone for Macy’s, too, a decent make. And this one was tagged at only ten bucks AND it was the discount color of the week making it only FIVE BUCKS!!!! This thing new would have been at least $150 or more.

BUT IT WAS A SIZE AND A HALF TOO BIG.

A 43 large, as it turned out. If I was 2 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier I might have gotten away with it, but that wasn’t happening. I’m a 40 regular and can get away with a 39, but that’s about it.

What a bummer. It deeply hurt me to have to put such an amazing bargain back on the rack even when I’ve already got a nice black jacket.

Actually, I have three. One is regular wool, and the other a velvety cotton number that I like to think of as my Dracula-as-pimp jacket. But the camels hair would have been a nice addition to the upper-end of the Wagstaff wardrobe.

AND the book selection at Goodwill was meager. Bah.

SO MY HEART WAS BROKEN.

Was this payback for my dream the other night where Fred “Rerun” Berry from What’s Happening? followed me to my car and asked me to drive him to Pasadena because there’d be “a few beers in it” for me and I turned him down, breaking HIS heart?

Yes, I really have dreams like that. Either the shrimp marinara for dinner that night, or my own insanity.

So, I’m only batting .500 for nice jackets this September.

But soon…. watch this space…. I think my batting average for novels worth reading will remain at 1.000 with the new YA entry. Stay tuned!

 

 

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Welcome To All B3TA Linkers August 24, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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A quick examination of my traffic shows me that a post on the Brit pop culture boards B3TA has led many of you to this blog, mostly for the Cris Shapan post I wrote some time ago.

Welcome!

Feel free to look around, check out the topic menu. Or just keep scrolling & enjoy. Lots of film & TV articles, cat pictures, stupid jokes, and this pic which is just for you Brits – one of my all time favorite countrymen of yours.

And MOST DEFINITELY click on the “Buy My Books” tab and check out my comic detective novels on Amazon. Help feed me, or so help me God, I’ll scour the internet for explicit porn starring Terry-Thomas and Robert Morley and I’ll start posting it.

You’ve been warned, guv’nor. Now don’t be a bloody git.

Baseball Card Of The Day: 1972 Topps “Boyhood Photos of the Stars” Jim Fregosi August 23, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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You’d think they’d be more consistent in using kid photos of baseball players actually playing baseball, from their little league days or whatever.

Most of the cards in this section of the monster 1972 Topps set featured just that – the Tom Seaver or Willie Stargell show ’em both in their caps and uniforms back in their childhood days.

But Jim Fregosi, notable as a star on the Angels for a number of years who the Mets, being the Mets, traded Nolan Ryan for, only gets to play the accordion.

Maybe that’s why the Mets wanted him.

“Let’s unload a guy on the way to being one of the all time greatest pitchers ever, who’ll pitch a staggering 7 no hitters, pitch deep into his late 40s and set the all strikeout record….FOR AN ACCORDION!!!!!”

Actually, Fregosi broke his thumb with the Mets, lasted a year with them, went to other teams as a backup and eventually became a manager back with Angels, the team he’d had his best hitting years with, along with some Gold Glove fielding.  And in his mangerial stint with the Angels, he’d have Nolan Ryan on his pitching staff.

Not sure about the accordion.

Joe Torre’s boyhood photo is a nice one, too. It reminds me of when kid Henry Hill comes home to his mom wearing a new suit and mom scowls “You look like a gangster!”

The car is a nice touch. Just out of shot, Tom Hagen is telling Tessio “Can’t do it Sallie!” and Torre’s about to help him into the back seat.

You’d think it would have been Clemenza, but Tessio was always smarter.

But Joe won 4 World Series managing the Yankees.

Play THAT on your accordion.

Exactly August 22, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats, Television.
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To quote Sgt. Nick Yemana, “Very well put.”

Art Reveals Brilliance August 21, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Art.
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Let him into the drawing class?? I’d give whoever did this tenure.

OCD Football Card Of The Day: 1971 Ray Nitschke August 18, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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It’s storytime, cats and kittens!

1971 was the first year I began collecting sports cards. Starting in the spring with baseball, my fave sport, I’d take the fifty cent allowance I got each week for not being TOO much of a pain in the ass, and walk the 3/4 mile each way (I just measured it on google maps) to what was then Adam’s Drugs (now a Dollar Tree, evidently) and buy 5 packs of 10 cards for a dime baseball cards.

They put ’em out in at least 6 “series” back then, meaning they’d sell segments of the entire set and change them every few weeks. You’d have to wait for a lot of your favorite players and stars, reading the checklist cards carefully to see what was out there, what was gone and what was coming.

Far too often, the local candy wholesalers would run erratic schedules, and combining that with packs left on the shelves meant some series of cards got incredibly short shrift. Looking over all the cards I bought in ’71, Series 4 and 6, the final one, are rather thin. 1972 was an even bigger set, and the final series of those had a very brief shelf life at Adam’s Drugs, as well as nationally. It’s why the “high number” cards even for commons are more expensive these days.

In ’73 and ’74, I bought whole boxes directly from a local wholesaler who didn’t mind selling single boxes to kids who collected cards. And Topps abandoned series in ’73, as well as cutting down the size of the set from 787 to 660. So, a box of packs held unlimited possibilities of what players I’d get. 24 packs to a box for two bucks at wholesale, a WAY better deal than Adam’s Drugs, once I’d saved my allowance.

Two bucks! Now look at what a box that’s managed to stay unopened since 1973 goes for at auction and cry.

In later years, I’d buy hand-sorted complete sets from ads in the back of The Sporting News. It was great to have the cards… but the anticipation/surprise of opening those wax packs was gone, and it was really part of the fun.

I didn’t miss the hard-candy textured shingle of industrial bubblegum that we always dreaded would be next to a card we really wanted in the pack, leaving that God damn gum stain on it.

Anyway, back in 1971 by the time we got to around this point in the year near Labor Day, the football packs would appear, followed by the basketball and hockey ones.

In the fall of ’71, I kept buying cards. I paid more attention to football than I did to baseketball or hockey. I only bought maybe 1 or 2 packs of those, but I bought football throughout the season. Only 2 series of cards to deal with, too. (more…)

Beware, Ladies! The Party Has Started! August 18, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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Thanks to Wilt’s suit, yellow cows are now extinct. Not sure about the animal Buddy is wearing on his head.

 

And I Get All Excited If I Find A Nickel On My Evening Walk August 14, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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This guy certainly did better.

He’s a musician who lives with his mom. I hope they gave him a sizable reward. Maybe he can finally move out of the house now, and find the rest of the orchestra.

 

Summer of Movies: Art House Edition August 5, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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Put down that Pabst Blue Ribbon and pick up that Heineken, it’s time for some upper-end, high-falutin’ fancy-schmanzty movies… oh, excuse me – FILMS to discuss in an intelligent and sophisticated manner.

In other words, films where nuthin blow’d up.

I’ve also given up on attending this echelon of moviegoing in person. While attending the supposed cinema-for-smart-people oozes the cultural vibe of avoiding the great unwashed talking on their cellphones throughout the entirety of the latest CGI-loaded comic book-based piece of assembly line formula crap from three different studios pooling their money to make it all back in China, audiences in the art house cinemas have often annoyed me for different reasons.

A lot of the time, it’s the virtue-signalling or hipness-signalling that goes on – to this day, I remember a couple of annoying dudes affecting intellectual edginess going out of their fucking way to laugh, and laugh LOUD – Robert DeNiro laughing at Problem Child in Cape Fear style loud – at the OBVIOUS and overdone supposed shock humor of Man Bites Dog, a French mockumentary about a serial killer that uses up its premise in its first few minutes and totally blows for the following 90. Yeah guys, I get it – you’re supposed to show people you think it’s funny because nothing shocks you, you oh-so-cool cultural trail blazers! Well, except for the endless list of harmless bullshit that you need trigger warnings for.

Save your energy, boys! There’s a repertory cinema up the street showing old romantic comedies and crime movies from the 1930s and 40s that you can hiss sexist-in-2018 dialogue at to demonstrate to everyone around you what an enlightened and superior person you are! I guess culturally we’ve graduated from that particular style of douchebaggery to organizing screenings of stuff like Animal House or Blazing Saddles for the sole purpose of pointing out why we shouldn’t be allowed to laugh at them anymore.

Yes. I hate everyone.

But usually at the cinema I’d most often wind up in, a branch of the Laemmle art house chain in Encino, the audience were mostly locals, which meant a small army of doddering alte kakers understandingly looking for better fare than what’s on the cable, but most often forgetting their hearing aids and repeating “What’d he say? What’d he say?” over and over again, EVEN IN SUBTITLED FILMS.

I used to tell my regular movie freak cohort it felt more like going to temple.

It was more eye-roll inducing than the anger-inducing hipster behavior, but it still interfered with my cinematic experience.

The amazing Cuban restaurant just up the street usually made up for it, tho – even if the movie turned out to be disappointing.

So, it’s been watching the same sort of thing at home, now – lumped in with the modern Hollywood fare I can stand, and with the old movies that escaped my radar that I never get tired of discovering. I guess if I learned to make garlic roast chicken the way they do at Versailles, it’d complete the circle.

Let’s start with a couple of them there foreign French films. Well, the first one might be in French, but it’s all about a bunch of Russian musicians. Le Concert (2009) tells the story of a bunch of former Russian classical musicians who had been shut down and banned by Brezhnev back during a 1980 Soviet crackdown who disguise themselves as the actual orchestra booked to play Paris. (more…)

I Don’t Trust These Visitors July 25, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, General, Movies.
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One of them smells like a tart’s handkerchief too.